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The Magic of Technology in Humans

Although the viewer may not be able to see what goes on behind the scenes to make a technological marvel occur, the marvel is really just a natural physical phenomenon that follows ordinary scientific rules and merely conceals how it accomplishes its feat. An example of technology that poses as magic is home automation, or the ˘Smart Home.÷ In a smart home, electronic sensors and microchips change the color of a room to a cooler one in the afternoon sun, to save energy. Lights automatically turn on and off at specified times. Motorized drapes open and close according to the light level in the room, without human intervention.

Creator Charles Davidson developed the perfect accessory to the smart home: Alexander, the electronic butler. Alexander is voice-activated, so Davidson can say ˘Alexander, IĂm away,÷ and the robot answers, ˘Yes, master,÷ then alarms the house, locks the front door, turns off the lights, and powers on the answering machine. If Davidson forgets to turn off the iron and realizes this halfway up the road, he can call Alexander on the phone, and the robot turns it off. Davidson can call from anywhere in the world to check on the house (Barrie 17).

Whether a technology is sufficiently advanced to be ˘magic÷ to a particular person depends on that personĂs level of understanding of the technology behind the trick. For example, even caller ID is magic to those who do not understand how it works. Calling someone on the phone and heari


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